Period and Near-Period Scented Recipes

Compiled From Heriteau, Potpourris and other Fragrant Delights:

From Philibert Guibert's The Charitable Physician, 1639:
Scented Candle
Take Benjamin, Storax, of each foure oz., Frankincense, Olibanum, of each 12 oz, Labdanum 18 oz, Nigela, 1 oz, coriander seeds, Juniper berries, of each halfe an oz.; liquid Storax sixe oz., turpentine half an oz.,  form them into candles with gum dragant [gumdragon/gum traganth] and Rose water.
From Bulleins Bulwarke, 1562:
Sixteenth-Century Sweet Water for Linens
Three pounds of Rose water, cloves, cinnamon, Sauders [sandalwood], 2 handful of the flowers of Lavender, lette it stand a moneth to still in the sonne, well closed in a glasse; Then destill it in Balneo Marial. It is marvellous pleasant in savour, a water of wondrous swetenes, for the bedde, whereby the whole place, shall have a most pleasaunt scent.
From Hugh Platt's Delights for Ladies, 1594
To make a special sweet water to perfume clothes in the folding being washed. Take a quart of Damaske-Rose-Water and put it into a glasse, put unto it a handful of Lavender Flowers, two ounces of Orris, a dram of Muske, the weight of four pence of Amber-greece [ambergris], as much Civet, foure drops of Oyle of Clove, stop this close, and set it in the Sunne a fortnight: put one spoonfull of this Water into a bason of common water and put it inot a a glasse and so sprinkle your clothes therewith in your folding: the dregs, left in the bottome (when the water is spent) will make as much more, if you keepe them, and put fresh Rose water to it.
From Ram's Little Dadoen, 1606
To Renew the Scent of a Pomander
Take one grain of Civet, and two of Musk, or if you double the proportion, it will bee so much sweeter; grinde them upon a stone with a little Rose-water; and after wetting your hands with Rose-water you may work the same in your Pomander. This is a sleight to pass away an old Pomander; but my intention is honest.


From Hugh Platt's Delights for Ladies, 1594
Pomander-- Sixteenth Century
Take 2 oz of Labdanum, of Benjamin and Storax, 1 oz.; musk, 6 graines; civet, 6 graines; Ambergrease, 6 graines; of Calamus Aromaticus and Lignum Aloes, of each the weight of a groat; beat all these in a hot mortar, and with a hot pestall till they come to paste; then wet your hands with Rose-water and rowle up the paste suddenly.

A late sixteenth century paste for a cassolette
Ambergris 3 drachmas, musk 2 drachmas, civet 1 drachma, essence of citron 3 drachmas. Mix the ambergris, musk and civet together, then add the oil and essence and make the whole into a past with rose-water and place in the cassolette.

From Mary Doggett, Her Book of Recipes, 1682
Mary Doggett's Pomander

Take a quarter of an ounce of civit, a quarter and a half-quarter of an ounce of Ambergreese, not a half a quarter of an ounce of ye spiritt of Roses, 7 ounces of Benjamin, almost a pound of Damask Rose buds cut. Lay gumdragon in rose water and with it make your pomander, with beads big as nutmegs and color them with Lamb black; when you make them up wash your hands with oyle of Jasmin to smooth them, then make them have a gloss, this quantity will make seaven Bracelets.


scent uses


"Hyssop, thyme, and cotton lavender, which were used in the early mazes, are small-- the grow, at the most, knee-high. Mazes made with these are therefore to be surveyed as well as walked in. Their color should be remembered, with box and yew also recommended: these were invaluable as evergreens. . . And they were also for smelling. Charles Estienne in his Agriculture et Maison Rustique recommends the cultivation of many rows of scented herbs, 'both for the reserve of your scented garden, for your hedges, and for your winter stews;' for example, sage and hyssop, thyme, lavender, rosemary, marjoram, costmary, basil, balm, 'and one bed of camomile to make seats and labyrinths, which they call Daedalus.' In the first English version of this work, translated by Richard Surflet in 1600, we are told to grow one bed 'of camomill, for to make seats and a labyrinth,' and later that 'these sweet herbes, and flowers for nosegaies shall be put in order. . . and some of them upon seats, and others in mazes made for the pleasing and recreating of the sight.'" Thacker, The History of Gardens.

Basil

RC-MG: Parkinson (Paradisi in Sole) on Basil:
"The ordinary Basill is in a manner wholly spent to make sweet, or washing waters, among other sweet herbes, yet sometimes it is put into nosegays. The Physically properties are to procure a cheereful and merry heart, whereunto the seede is chiefly used to that, and to no other purpose"

Tusser (500 points of good husbandry)
"The knowledge of stilling is one pretty feat,
the waters be wholesome, the charges not great:
What timely though gettest, while summer doth last,
think winter will help thee, to spend it as fast.
Fine basil desireth it may be her lot,
to grow as the gelliflower, trim in a pot;
That ladies and gentles, to whom ye do serv,
may help her, as needeth, poor life to preserve.

Gillyflower

Tusser (500 points of good husbandry)
"The knowledge of stilling is one pretty feat,
the waters be wholesome, the charges not great:
What timely though gettest, while summer doth last,
think winter will help thee, to spend it as fast.
Fine basil desireth it may be her lot,
to grow as the gelliflower, trim in a pot;
That ladies and gentles, to whom ye do serv,
may help her, as needeth, poor life to preserve.

Roses

RC-MG quoting William Lawson (1600):
"The rather because abundance of Roses and Lavender, yeeld much profit, and comfort to the senses: Rose-water, Lavender, the one cordial (as also the Violets; Burrage [borage] and Bugloss)  the other reviving the spirits by the sence of smelling, both most durable for smell, both in flowers and water.

Lavender

RC-MG quoting William Lawson (1600):
"The rather because abundance of Roses and Lavender, yeeld much profit, and comfort to the senses: Rose-water, Lavender, the one cordial (as also the Violets; Burrage [borage] and Bugloss)  the other reviving the spirits by the sence of smelling, both most durable for smell, both in flowers and water.
Rosemary
Rosemary and Rue were famed for their antibacterial properties and used in scented nosegays.
"Halitosis was a matter of consideration even in the time of Gerard, who says, 'The distilled water of the flowres of Rosemary being drunke at morning and evening first and last, taketh away the stench of the mouth and breath, and maketh it very sweet, if there be added thereto, to steep or infuse for certain daies, a few cloves, Mace, Cinnamon, and a little Annise seed.'" Clarkson, MG 118

"William Langham in his Garden of Health (1579) makes a rosemary bath practically equal to a dip in the Fountain of Youth. 'Seethe much Rosemary, and bathe therein to make thee lusty, lively, joyfull, likeing and youngly.'" Clarkson, MG 118

Sage

"The ninth century Walafrid Strabo in The Little Garden says, 'Amongst my herbs, sage holds the place of honour; of good scent it is and full of virtue for many ills.'
Spearmint/Mint
"Before Christ, the Pharisees were paying tithes with mint, anise, and cumin. 'In Athens, where every part of the body was perfumed with a different scent, mint was specially designated to the arms," reported Maude Grieve. . . The Romans . . . cultivated spearmint for food preparation (Ovid recommended scouring food service platters with the green leaves), for preventing coagulation of milk, for love potions, and for an old-time AlkaSelzer..."

Tarragon

[Arabian Ibn Baithar (thirteenth century)] "claimed [tarragon] sweetened the breath, was soporific and if chewed before taking medicine, dulled the taste." Clarkson, MG p 116

Thyme

"Thyme. Always the symbol of strength, it was a favorite herb for aromatic baths." Clarkson, MG 119
"In the olde days an infusion of creeping thyme was considered a sure cure for 'that troublesome complaint, the nightmare.'" Clarkson, MG 120.

Violets

RC-MG quoting William Lawson (1600):
"The rather because abundance of Roses and Lavender, yeeld much profit, and comfort to the senses: Rose-water, Lavender, the one cordial (as also the Violets; Burrage [borage] and Bugloss)  the other reviving the spirits by the sence of smelling, both most durable for smell, both in flowers and water.

Wormwood

Tusser (500 points of good husbandry):
"While wormwood hath seed, get a bundle or twain,
to save against March, to make flea to refrain:
Where chamber is sweept, and wormwood is strown,
no flea, for his life, dare abide to be known.
What savour is best, if physic be true,
for places infected, than wormwood and rue?
It is as a comfort, for heart and the brain,
and therefore to have it, it is not in vain."

Anise

"Halitosis was a matter of consideration even in the time of Gerard, who says, 'The distilled water of the flowres of Rosemary being drunke at morning and evening first and last, taketh away the stench of the mouth and breath, and maketh it very sweet, if there be added thereto, to steep or infuse for certain daies, a few cloves, Mace, Cinnamon, and a little Annise seed.'" Clarkson, MG 118

Cinnamon

"Halitosis was a matter of consideration even in the time of Gerard, who says, 'The distilled water of the flowres of Rosemary being drunke at morning and evening first and last, taketh away the stench of the mouth and breath, and maketh it very sweet, if there be added thereto, to steep or infuse for certain daies, a few cloves, Mace, Cinnamon, and a little Annise seed.'" Clarkson, MG 118

Cloves:

"Halitosis was a matter of consideration even in the time of Gerard, who says, 'The distilled water of the flowres of Rosemary being drunke at morning and evening first and last, taketh away the stench of the mouth and breath, and maketh it very sweet, if there be added thereto, to steep or infuse for certain daies, a few cloves, Mace, Cinnamon, and a little Annise seed.'" Clarkson, MG 118

Dill

Of dill "Culpeper said, 'It stayeth the hiccough, being boiled in wine, and but smelled unto, being tied in a cloth.'" Clarkson MG 117

Mace:

"Halitosis was a matter of consideration even in the time of Gerard, who says, 'The distilled water of the flowres of Rosemary being drunke at morning and evening first and last, taketh away the stench of the mouth and breath, and maketh it very sweet, if there be added thereto, to steep or infuse for certain daies, a few cloves, Mace, Cinnamon, and a little Annise seed.'" Clarkson, MG 118

Oils

RC-GE: Markham (?)
"TO MAKE OYLE OF ROSES OR VIOLETS"
"Take the flowers of Roses or Violets, and break them small, and put them into Sallet oyle, and let them stand in the same ten or twelve dayes and then presse it."